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Fast Company: Slow Down to Go Fast


Regardless of how fast your company is today, the marketplace expects and rewards being faster and more nimble. Current success proves that correct choices were made yesterday. A competitor’s game-changing innovation or their faster response to a market shift can mean immediate irrelevance to you and your team. The goal is for every single employee at your company to operate with a greater sense of urgency and attention to strategic execution. Being nimble is about focused, intentional action not just running faster.

It sounds counter-intuitive, but your company may need to slow down in order to be faster and more nimble. The companies that achieve this successfully and consistently move purposefully and decisively in three critical areas: purpose and vision; process and structure: people and culture.

Purpose and Vision

Fast companies invest extra time in their purpose and vision to ensure that their statements create clarity to guide decision-making and inspire commitment at every level. Their internal support functions have a clear line of sight into how they can be customer- and purpose-focused. Externally, they hone in on creating value for the customer.

Slowing down to get the vision and purpose integrated into every part of the business creates a multiplier effect. Having a clear direction on strategies moves the entire organization forward. Additionally, it helps identify the activities that do not serve the purpose of the company. The result is an operation where everyone is focused on the same clearly defined goals.

Process and Structure

Fast and slow companies alike design their day-to-day structure and processes to create consistency and efficiency. While slow companies discuss the need to scout the future for the next big innovation that may or may not come to fruition, fast companies invest extra energy creating an organizational structure that empowers innovation at every level. They foster an environment that encourages everyone to contribute ideas to transform the future of the company. Creating the correct balance between flawless execution and potential misfires takes time that slower companies falsely believe they do not have. But the effort pays off when execution and innovation become more than just topics at the annual yearly company leadership meeting.

People and Culture

Fast, nimble companies view people and employees as assets, and culture as the habits that bring their values to life. Culture is the vehicle to empower innovation and efficiency as well as engagement.

Successful companies take their time to identify and nurture a culture that reduces friction in the workplace and speeds up performance. They search for the person who is the best fit, not just the first person to meet the minimum job requirements. And once they find him or her, they deliberately equip them with the tools and training to succeed and thrive within the company’s culture. The result: employees become full contributors to the team faster and more effectively, ultimately helping to move the company forward.

Everyone wants to go faster. The businesses that achieve fast are the ones willing to go slow to do the important, essential work.